A bounty of riches! The women of the GCC (Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit) just keep cranking out the successes! The latest is Megan Crane aka Caitlin Crews. Megan/Caitlin has not one but two books out this week. And she offered up both to her fellow GCC'ers stating we could pick which book to highlight. But I'm just not good at choices...onion rings or fries? I'll have both. Red wine or white...a glass of each. Chocolate or...well chocolate...okay that one is easy. So I've decided to mention both books.
Amazing really, two books publishing in the same week! Megan stopped by to answer some questions:
Which comes easier for you - beginnings or endings?
Definitely beginnings. I like to launch myself into the beginning and write until I hit a wall, then go back and figure out what I'm doing.
Favorite thing about being a writer?
I get to make up stories in my head, and then tell them, and make my living that way. It’s more than a dream come true. And I don’t, in fact, need algebra, as I told my math teacher in high school long ago!
Least favorite thing about being a writer?
The blank page is usually filled with all my doubts and fears, and that’s not a whole lot of fun to sift through to get to the words I need to write. And you can never really take a vacation, because the work is always in your head. And I become a little bit of a crazy person as a deadline approaches. But I wouldn’t give any of it up.
What is one thing you’ve learned about the publishing industry since getting your first book deal?
There is writing, and then there is publishing, and there is only one part of that I can control: the writing.
What is your advice for those who looking to get their novel published?
Just write. No one can tell your story the way you can, and no one will get to read it until you write it.
What's your favorite food?
Chocolate. Seriously. I'm a complete addict. I like it dark, rich, and life-altering.
Do you have a muse, good luck charm, writing vice?
I am pretty sure my extremely fat and ill-behaved cats feel that they are both muses and charms; they are not. I don't really have either, I don't think. I have written all my books (I'm on number 15!) on the same desk, which I'm a little superstitious about it these days. It's currently located in the office I share with my husband, overlooking a pretty sweep of trees and mountains and the Hollywood sign here in Los Angeles. It's filled with books and pictures, and somehow, helps the words come.
How many drafts until the final draft?
I am one of those desperately linear writers, who can't go forward if I know what's behind me is a big mess. So I usually write the day's words, then set it aside to pick up and read the next morning. I revise it before starting the next day's writing. So when I have a full draft, it's usually pretty tight, and then I go over that at least once or twice. So... three?
What's your writing process/writing environment like?
I'm pretty fierce about my daily word quotas, which are really the only way I can write as much as I do. (I wrote five books last year and will write at least four this year.) I usually write 2,000 words a day--although at a certain point last fall I had to write 3000 a day to hit a particular deadline, and I found that dizzyingly difficult. The internet is my greatest time-waster. I'm starting to use Mac Freedom to turn it off for stretches here and there, because I can't be trusted--and I will often look up to see that hours have passed and there I am reading Jezebel and hitting refresh on Twitter... Not good.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?
Just do it. Just write. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.
What's next for you?
I am currently working on my fifteenth novel, a romance, which should be out sometime next year!
Excellent job Megan! Now go buy one, or better yet, both of her books!
I'm in. All in. Except for Sundays, even God took off Sundays (or Saturdays depending on which ecclesiastical historian you believe.)
Luckily for me, this challenge also coincides with the LARA (Los Angeles Romance Writers of America) SPEW (Stop Procrastinating Everyone Write) challenge.
Now, for my needs, I am modifying the challenge...a bit. My latest Work In Progress demands a little different approach. Usually I write an entire first draft, just spew it onto the page and then go back and rewrite. But with this project I've found my process is more akin to Lois Lowry's process. I am actually editing as I go along. So some days I get 2,000 or even 3,000 words down and some days I may get 5 - 10 pages edited with actually very few new words. So to accomodate this process I am setting my goals as follows:
For the next 25 days (except Sundays) I will either write 2,000 words a day or I will write for 4 hours a day.
This new goal also accommodates my screenwriting needs. Because we have a NEW screenplay that we are working on. Right now the writing partner is taking his pass but when he emails it to me...well it's my turn. And word count? Just doesn't work the same way with screenplays. Screenplays, once you have the scenes worked out (and believe me with a 19 page single-spaced outline we have the scenes worked out) are more like a constant editing process.
So who's with me?! Any writers out there who need to jumpstart their latest WIP? Set a fire under their tushy?
“…With great acting all around, including Mimi Rogers as Nona’s sponsor, this adaptation of Carleen Brice’s novel, Orange Mint and Honey is one dramatic powerhouse of a TV movie. It’d be a sin to miss it!“—NATIONAL ENQUIRER, Best Bets on TV
"As a reformed alcoholic mother trying to reconnect with her tightly wound, emotionally stunted daughter, Jill Scott (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) delivers a performance that makes you forget you knew her as a singer first." — ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
“The magnificent Jill Scott shines as a former mess of a mother struggling to make amends to the daughter she abused…“—TV GUIDE, Hot List
Another GCC author with a new book out. This one is near and dear to my heart as I love Hank and I love her series. So here is the cover for Drive Time, the latest in the Charlotte McNally series.
Hank was kind enough to answer my questions about her latest book and her writing process.
Tell us about Drive Time.
Drive Time is about secrets. TV reporter Charlie McNally’s working on a story about a dangerous scheme that could absolutely happen…and let me just say, if you own a car, or rent a car, you’ll never look at your vehicle the same way after reading Drive Time. In fact, after writing the book, I now get a bit creeped out when I go into a parking garage. That’s all I‘ll say.
Charlie’s also drawn into another frightening situation—this one at the prep school where her fiancé is an English professor. When Charlie learns a secret that might put her step-daughter-to-be in danger, and might also be an blockbuster investigative story—how does she balance her loyalty to her husband-to-be—with her need to protect the public?
So this is a tough one for Charlie. And she must make many life-changing decisions. Just when she begins to think she might be able to have it all—a terrific career and a new husband and a new life--revenge, extortion and murder may bring it all to a crashing halt.
How did the character of Charlotte ‘Charlie’ McNally come about?
What a great question. I have NO idea. She was born when I got a weird spam in my email. It was what looked like lines from a play by Shakespeare. I thought--why would someone send a spam like that? And it crossed my mind--maybe it's a secret message.
I still get goose bumps telling you about it. And I knew, after all those years of wanting to write a mystery, that was my plot. And that turned out to be the Agatha-winning PRIME TIME. But Charlie? Well, I knew I had a good story, but who would tell it? A television reporter, of course. And she just instantly popped into my head. Named, fully formed. I knew her perfectly.
The other characters were more difficult to get to know. But now, Charlie surprises me a lot! And I love when that happens.
You’ve got four books under your belt, you’ve won an Agatha, and been compared to Lisa Scottoline. Will there come a time when you say goodbye to journalism to focus full time on your fiction?
Ain't that the question! I still smile in delight every time I see my Agatha teapot. And when the starred review in Library Journal for DRIVE TIME compared me to Lisa Scottoline, well, I burst into tears. But I still love my job in TV. So--you could ask me that question every day, and every day I'd have a different answer. And I guess the bottom line is: who knows?
Any plans to write a non Charlotte McNally novel?
Yup. Absolutely. It's in the works. You heard it here first.
Any other genre you want to tackle?
Yup. :-) It’s in the works. You heard it here first.
Your husband’s a criminal defense attorney. Does he read your work or give you any tips or even ideas for plots?
He’s the most patient man on the planet. Yes, he's really the only person who reads my pages while they’re in process. When I first started writing PRIME TIME, I'd give hi my five pages or so a day, and I'd hear him laughing and I was so delighted! And he would tell me every day how terrific it was. Then, about fifty pages in, I went in for my daily pat on the back. And he had a funny look on his face. "Honey?" he asked. "Is something going to happen soon?" So I knew I had some work to do.
Ideas for plots? Ah, no, not really. I'm always running ideas by him, to see if he thinks they’re plausible and believable. And sometimes he'll come up with just the perfect little thing I need to pull something together. But we think very differently. He’s much more--wedded to reality.
You’ve won accolades from some of the top writers in the business including some of my favorite authors like Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton. Any tips you can offer for writing top notch mysteries and creating a great character like Charlie?
Well, thank you! Yes, it’s great, and Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton are my idols. (They’re also wonderfully generous, and truly authentic. I have three little talismans on my desk that Sue Grafton gave me, and I look at them every day.)
Tips? Well, I read an interview with the poet Anne Sexton some time ago--and she was asked, "What, truly, can a creative writing teacher give her students?" And her answer was:" Courage." I think that's so wonderful. And I think my advice would be similar--just don’t be afraid. Fear is a waste of time. Write your book. One page at a time. You can do it.
Any mistakes you’ve made along the way, have you learned anything from them?
Hah. That’s another long blog for another day. Mistakes? Ah, on a huge level, people always yell at me for working all the time. ALL the time. Is that a mistake? None of this would have happened without that. Would I change it? I have to say no. So is that a mistake? I'm not sure. On a tiny level, I should have put together a mailing list of bookstores. Still haven’t done that. Wish I had.
What’s next for you?
Exactly what I'm trying to figure out. DRIVE TIME came out February 1, with fantastic blurbs from the much-missed and iconic Robert B. Parker and Suzanne Brockmann and Margaret Maron and Carla Neggers and a rave starred review from Library Journal. So I'm hoping people love it. (And I'll be visiting lots of places across the US--hope some of our readers come visit!) And then...we’ll see. I can't tell you how excited I am.
I'm excited too Hank! I can't wait to read the latest book in the series. Okay, everyone go get those books!
Another day...another production company meeting. Today we met with the producers of this well loved series:
and also this fabulously popular series:
The company creates AMAZING intellectual property in all three mediums; film, television and books. They have an immense library of material that they want adapted. And I have to say...Mike and Maggie would be wildly happy to help.
Fellow GCC member, Judi Fennell, has a new book out: Catch of A Lifetime. Book three in the series, Catch of A Lifetime, is garnering rave reviews! This fabulous book can be read alone or in part of the series too.
Judi stopped by to answer some questions about her process and her latest book; Catch of a Lifetime.
What pulled you into this story, and as a writer made you think I have to write this?
My first story, In Over Her Head was a Top 5 finalist in the Gather.com/Pocket Books First Chapters Romance Contest and I wanted to show the final judges that I had more than that one book in me, so I came up with the subsequent two books in the series. What made me choose Angel instead of Mariana, her older sister, was that I felt she had more of a story to tell at that point. Now, Mariana is poking me in the shoulder, demanding hers be told.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline or are you more organic?
I tried plotting, especially with my new series, coming out in 2011 about genies. I had to build the world before I wrote the first book, so I gave a lot of thought to at least the first book. And because an important element of book 1 (I Dream of Genies, January 2011) is the focus of book 2 (Genie Knows Best), I really had to know what I was talking about. But my editor's great in that, for the middle of the book, my synopsis read, "Cue the Indiana Jones music." Yep. I knew something was going to happen, but not exactly what. She trusts me enough to go with that. And I have to say, writing that "music" part was a lot of fun.
With Catch o a Lifetime, I thought I knew where the story was going, so I had some of it plotted out, but, inevitably, when I started writing what I thought was going to happen, it didn't work out. That part actually got scrapped and what happened wasn't something I had ever seen happening. I do love it, though. So I've tried plotting, but in the end, my story and characters go whatever way they please, with me just trying to hang on for the ride.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
There's no typical day for me. I'm a wife, mother, president of my local chapter, employee, friend, volunteer, etc. It's a juggling act to keep all the balls in the air and sometimes they might get dropped, but I try to pick them up as fast as I can and get them dancing. My husband is incredibly supportive and the man can do laundry, cook a great meal, yardwork and clean like nobody's business. He's my Prince Charming.
Do you have a vice that youve given up, but long to continue?
Eating hoagies at 2 am. :) Yep, I used to do that in college and it never showed. Talk about a huge adjustment after I had kids and my metabolism went on hiatus!!! I miss those days.
For you, what is the most difficult part of being an author?
Sitting. Seriously, it's painful. But pain is a great motivator, I've found. I now go to the gym three times a week for an hour and a half and while sweating is definitely NOT on my list of favorite things to do, I do feel better afterward. Still can't eat those hoagies at 2 am, though...
What do you love about being an author?
I love being able to tell my stories. I love having people telling me they were entertained by my screwy sense of humor. I love hanging out with other authors because they "get" the people talking in your head.
Whats next for you?
The genie series releases in January 2011, so I'm busy working on those. I Dream of Genies is in to my editor and Genie Knows Best and Leave It To Genie are in the first draft stage.
Thank you Judi! Happy Release! Now, everyone, go buy the book!!
treat*ment [noun] the presentation or discussion of a subject.
In Hollywood 'the treatment' refers to a document written by screenwriters so that executives might have an overview of a screenplay's story, structure, and characters prior to the screenwriters going to draft. The treatment is an attempt by executives to correct, advise, change, and or doctor the screenplay prior to the writers writing and becoming so very enamored with every word they write and their characters speak so that the screenwriters never want to change a single comma thus leaving the executives with whatever drivel the screenplay writer drips out of their fingertips onto the page.
Ah, the treatment. Mike and I have been working on a new one for...a while. And somehow this little bitty treatment, 'really, guys we only need a couple of pages.' Has turned into a monster at 17 pages SINGLE spaced. Single. Now any writer knows that 17 pages single spaced...is well...it's about 40 pages double. Wow. But we've nailed it. Finally. Or pretty much. There are of course more notes. (See post from January 27 regarding notes.) But notes are to be expected. Always. But now, after oh...one, two, three, four....okay five passes, it seems everyone is onboard with this treatment; three producers and two writers.
So now: Green Light, GO!
The fun part begins. We start to write. The script. The real thing. With the scenes, and the characters and the romance and the funny bits (oh please let the bits be funny) and the drama....and the funny bits...I mentioned the funny bits right? And once we have a draft, a really solid draft we turn it in to the producers. And guess what?
Same dance different tune. More notes. More rewrites. But if we do it right? It won't just be a Green Light to write...but a Green Light to make a movie.
I am an attorney, author, and independent producer. My Hollywood adventure began as a motion picture literary agent (after pushing the mail-cart!). Since then I've written for film, TV, and ghostwritten multiple celebrity books, (sorry can't tell you which celebrities). I am blessed to share my LA life with my outrageously good-looking husband (seriously--I get older and he gets better with age) and my fabulous children.